The Accenture Adaptive Retail report was released at the The Millennial 20/20 Summit, earlier this month. The agency surveyed more than 10,000 consumers across 13 countries, while a separate study focused on a global sample of 162 retailers in different industries in 10 countries. Discussion topics included British consumer behavior and expectations, how retailers are addressing this, how business models are adjusting to changes in the retail sector, and Millennials’ views on their shopping experiences.
According to the report, 92 percent of retailers have a mobile-optimized Web sites with three-quarters offering smartphone apps with purchase capabilities, which is significantly higher than the global average of 58 percent and higher than the United States, where more than four in five retailers offer such applications. The report stated that U.K. mobile shoppers have increased from 25 percent in 2014 to 30 percent in 2015.
The report added there are shoppers who want more retail services through mobile devices, in particular, real-time in-store promotions. This presents an opportunity for U.K. retailers, as the companies surveyed do not have that particular capability. U.K. shoppers also believe that having the ability to check product availability prior to going to a store offers them a positive retail experience but only 40 percent of retailers offer this.
With business models adapting, Accenture’s global head of retail, Jill Standish, said managing inventories through a cloud and measuring analytics are two key factors that will be significantly different in the future of retail.
“I think breaking through some of the barriers of allowing some of this technology to work with old systems is going to be a big deal,” Jill Standish told WWD. “Like getting inventory visibility through some of these systems is hard so how can we help with that? Things like cloud, things like managing the platform for the retailer, I think will be a big way to do that. The second thing is how do we help measure the impact? So some of these shiny toys are fun, but are they really driving more foot traffic? Are they driving more conversion? The U.K. has great retail examples of how these companies are viewing their business as not just store versus online. They are viewing it as one, and how they are doing that is actually really impressive. I think the U.K. has some of the best retailers in the world doing some of those things.”
Standish predicts that retailers will adopt cloud technology in the future. “They really need to try things fast and they are going to experiment more, but they are going to need help in understanding what the impact of that experiment is, and it’s okay if it doesn’t work. Failing fast and actually in practice can be a big deal. I look at those applications as being suitable for the cloud. I don’t think of things like point of sale being on the cloud necessarily, but could you store your loyalty application and could you store customer information and could you store those things on the cloud so you can get access to them no matter where you are.”
According to the report, 57 percent of Millennials want services that improve the online shopping experience including targeted promotions and quicker check out. Millennial shoppers are also the generation most comfortable with providing typical retail information to retailers, such as details of shopping preferences, purchase history, and loyalty membership, but fewer than one in seven would provide personal information. The survey also found companies that have impacted U.K. consumers’ lifestyles the most. They include Google, Amazon/Amazon Prime, which were listed as the top two companies, followed by Facebook and Apple.
Standish advises retailers to focus to on an authentic experience for the Millennial. “Make sure that your store personnel are engaging. Think of all the different channels instead of just the store channel. Making sure that your brand is experienced online as it is in the store, those are kind of the basis. People always say that the Millennial should be the target, I like to say that the Millennial should be at least the anti of what you do because then you will hit everybody else. My father uses technology, I use technology and I’m not a necessarily a Millennial. But if you start thinking like a Millennial, meaning they do have choice, they are not very loyal, they definitely want personalization. If you get those bits right you are going to hit other consumers as well. We are all sick of the spam email, we are all sick of not being treated with the personal experience.”
Managing director of Accenture’s retail practice Matt Prebble noted a few important factors to appealing to Millennials. “If I give you as a retailer or as a brand, my information, I expect you to be able to offer me a context relevant shopping environment. You need to know where I am to be able to offer me real-time promotions and so if you look at the research actually a big portion of consumers, about a third of consumers, expect to be able to have real time promotions and virtually no retailers are offering that at the moment across the U.K. So there is a big demand out there to be able to offer those customized promotions in real time in exchange for giving information,” he said.
Prebble pointed to adaptive research as an important factor for retailers. “They need to focus on a few things, one is the importance of analytics,” said Prebble. It’s the ability to be able to understand your customer and feed that understanding all the way through. What is the feedback I am getting from my customers, how do I take that feedback and apply to the next product we are developing, or the next product I’m sourcing. How do I use analytics to know where you are as a person when you are shopping? That connection and be able to connect the dots and capture data around that, knowing what experience that you are going to deliver as a brand or as a retailer and where the consumer is, that is absolutely key, that is driven by data analytics. So the retailers who are really going to differentiate in the future are those that are going to take that analytics, embed it to both the product and also the shopping experience itself and that is going to be absolutely key.”
Prebble noted a few other key results in his findings. “There is evidence that retailers and consumer goods companies are making great strides in mobile and responding to that,” said Prebble. “But what the research shows is there are still more things that need to be done and there is lots of demand from consumers around real time look-ups, the ability to see what stock is in what location, as well as personalized promotions. In addition, what was really interesting was that Millennials themselves are actually more likely than some of the previous generations to want to visit a store, which surprises. What that means is there is actually still a lot of potential in the future around reimagining the store to connect with the next generations of consumers. I think one of the big messages is that there is a key future for the role of the store as long as retails and brands really reimagine that format and connect with consumers.”